March 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
My grandpa — 爷爷 — died this morning.
He was more than 90 years old, and his health had been declining for years. The most recent pictures I saw were of him lying in bed in some kind of hospice, curled up with his eyes tightly closed and a thin tube wrapped around his head going into his nose. He didn’t look comfortable.
My dad told me last month when he showed me the pictures that my grandpa was no longer able to eat or digest food, thus the feeding tube. 爷爷 wasn’t tall from what I remember, but he was still healthily hefty just a few years ago, but had wasted away to skin and bones.
He had dementia for the past number of years as well. He had started forgetting who we were even in 2008, the last time we went to China as a family. Grandma would admonish him to say hi to us. “Who?” he’d say. Dad would have to introduce himself. “It’s me; your son.” 爷爷 would smile and nod. “Ah, yes, good.”
I have a picture of him from when I visited Shenyang by myself in 2010, when he could still feed himself and get around slowly with his walker. “Sometimes grandpa remembers who I am … but usually not,” I wrote.
I don’t know much about my grandpa. I know he grew up in Shandong and always had a bit of that accent. I know he had four children: three girls and one boy (my father). I know he must’ve been a good parent because all of his children turned out to be wonderful, lovely and relatively successful in life.
I know that he and my grandma were my primary caretakers during the year that both my parents immigrated to the U.S., leaving my 2-year-old self behind. I have a fuzzy memory of him carrying me piggyback up the stairs of our old apartment building, though I can’t tell if it was in a dream or reality.
I know that my grandpa had dentures even 15 years ago, when my dad threatened that if I didn’t brush my teeth, they’d all fall out and I’d have to get fake ones and wouldn’t be able to taste food anymore, like grandpa. (The threat was ineffective.) I know that grandpa had a head of bushy white hair, and that if my dad hadn’t been self-dyeing for the past many years, his would be just as white. (Don’t tell anyone.)
The last time my grandparents stayed with us in the U.S. was when I was in middle school, but we didn’t talk much. So that’s really about all I know. And now — he’s gone. You could say he’s been gone for a while already, but now it’s truly final.
The thought of someone suddenly being gone forever freaks me out. I’ve been fortunate to have not experienced the deaths of any close relatives or friends.
My mother’s parents are already deceased: my grandma of lung cancer when I was 2 and my grandpa when I was around 10(?).
I never really thought about their deaths much, as I was too young and/or far away to appreciate the significance. But now that I think about it, my mother was only a few years older than I am now when she lost hers. It’s almost an impossible thought. I’m not that close with my parents, but I at least expect them to be there — not even necessarily when I need them (which is infrequent) but just to know that they’re there and doing well.
I’ve written about my grandma before, briefly. By all accounts, she was a kind person. I wonder if my mother would’ve been different as a parent if her own mother had still been around. I wonder if they were close. She didn’t talk about either of my grandparents much, at least not to me.
I’m sure my dad has been preparing for this day for a while. He sounded relatively normal on the phone when he broke the news, and thankfully his mother is still doing just fine. My parents were actually planning to go to China at the end of this month, but 爷爷 wasn’t able to make it until then, so they’re is flying out tonight. I hope to visit sometime next year.
And so it goes. Death takes its course, and the living stay behind, left to carry on while trying to make sense of it all in rambling blog posts.
February 5, 2015 § 2 Comments
1. You sometimes get a Britney Spears song stuck in your head and it actually makes your day better.
2. You’re willing to spend hundreds of dollars (or get someone to spend hundreds of dollars for you) to see your childhood/teenage idol dance to all her biggest hits.
3. You’re thrilled at the prospect of seeing other celebrities in the audience, such as J.Lo (yes, this actually happened to me):
4. You know all the words to “Perfume.”
5. You want to see Britney Spears swinging from a giant tree/prancing through a ring of fire.
6. You relish the thought of seeing your Twitter/Instagram post projected next to the stage where the Princess of Pop is going to perform:
December 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
The first time I visited a cat cafe was in Hong Kong (pictures here and here); it was definitely more of a cat-themed cafe that happened to have pet cats — lots of tables and chairs with a full-fledged menu of kitty-shaped things.
In contrast, Meow Parlour centers on the well-being of its four-legged tenants. There’s lots of open space to sit and play with the cats, which are all up for adoption through KittyKind, plus nooks for them to hide in if they’re tired of human interaction. As my friend Jennifer said, it’s so hard to resist wanting to take one home!
I donated to Meow Parlour’s Kickstarter immediately upon learning about it, thus securing myself a reservation for two this past Saturday. When I arrived at 2 p.m., all but two of the kitties were sleeping (I think there were about eight total?), so I chilled and took in all the cat-friendly decor.
October 25, 2014 § 1 Comment
In the six days that J and I spent in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we had a fair amount of adventure. And despite being all prepared to go hiking with my new hiking shoes and fancy hiking socks, we actually spent very little time trekking up any mountains because early in the week, I accidentally twisted my ankle running to the tram. Oops. (To add insult to injury, we weren’t even close to making that round of passengers.)
So we did other things instead. Like white water rafting.
To be clear, this was not my idea. I absolutely do not relish the risk of getting tossed into a frothy river; plus, I dislike almost anything resembling roller coaster rides (except the virtual ones because there’s no imminent danger of death), especially water ones. Basically, they scare me, and I don’t like getting splashed.
J managed to convince me to go white water rafting by promising that I could back out at any point, but I was still terrified the entire morning and was silent on the bus ride out to Snake River.
Fortunately for me, it was a perfect, sunny day, and the water levels in the river were low enough to be feasible for novices. We were grouped with a father-daughter pair from Florida and a couple from England. I sat middle left, and J sat across from me. I made sure to dig my feet as far as I could under the inflated tube thing between us to keep from losing my balance.
The rafting company had professional photographers hiding somewhere along the banks (I didn’t see them), which gave us some great action shots. By great, I mean everyone else looks cool and I look super weird. What am I even doing in the picture above? I don’t know. The rest aren’t much better.
October 12, 2014 § 1 Comment
This summer, J and I took a trip to Jackson Hole, a place where he likes to snowboard in the winter and a place I had never heard of until he brought it up. Apparently it’s beautiful there!
That was the view from the plane as we were landing. Not a bad first impression, Wyoming.
The view from our resort was just as good, or perhaps even better because we could sit by the pool and listen to the cattle mooing in the valley below. (Seriously, they were down there bellowing 24/7, and the first few times I heard them, I thought it was someone’s phone vibrating! More cow encounters to follow later because cows are hilarious.)
We stayed at Amangani, part of the worldwide Aman Resorts chain (of which we are newly converted huge fans), is located atop a mountain 15 minutes outside of downtown and 20 minutes away from Teton Village, the more touristy area with ski lifts and kids’ activities.
In contrast, our resort was an oasis in a locale that was already pretty idyllic. For one, there are less than 50 rooms in the whole hotel, making for a serene experience where we could (mostly) avoid other people’s noisy children and the like. Plus, our little mountain (the East Gros Ventre Butte) is a protected wildlife habitat, which means sometimes you’ll find moose in the front yard. Literally.
The first afternoon when we stepped out of the front door to head downtown for dinner, the two valets were in a tizzy.
“There’s a moose and her baby nearby,” one of them whispered excitedly, gesturing toward the row of parked cars on the driveway. We poked our heads around, expecting to see the animals farther up on the road, but they were RIGHT THERE in front of us, just hanging out in the little pond right next to the cars.
June 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
According to Chen, Seattle is boring and can be toured in about a day, so we somewhat hastily planned a visit Vancouver. (I use the word “planned” lightly as we were all too busy/lazy to figure out an itinerary until the last minute. We might not even have ended up going if I hadn’t booked a hotel??)
The four of us (minus Shirley) left the morning of the second day. The two-and-a-half hour drive passed by relatively quickly, probably because I was sleeping in the backseat, hehe. (Thanks for driving, Chen and Lucy!)
It was kind of scary having to turn off all our mobile services after crossing the border simply because we were so unprepared. On the way, we furiously Yelped a few places to eat while Lucy took screenshots of all the maps we’d need.
We were so preoccupied with simply having our passports (I might’ve threatened to maim anyone who forgot hers…only because I had a previous time-wasting experience of a friend forgetting his!) that we forgot one major detail: None of us had any Canadian money, and we had no idea where to find currency exchanges. And it turned out that I was the only one with a credit card that had no foreign transaction fees.
Conclusion: I became a sugar mama for 24 hours.
Everything from parking to souvenirs to meals were billed to me. (Give me all the points!) It was actually kind of fun? But only because I knew they would pay me back later! And it certainly made things easier not struggling to split the check at the table. (I kept all my receipts and spent some time with Excel upon returning to Chicago.) « Read the rest of this entry »
May 27, 2014 § 1 Comment
A few weeks ago, Lucy, Xixi and I (sadly, minus Yawen) took a momentous trip to Seattle to visit Chen and Shirley. It was our first getaway together without our parents — we’re finally adults!!
Lucy and I flew out on Thursday night and treated ourselves to some in-flight wine (a local Washington red) and fruit/cheese platter because we’re ~fancy~. Just kidding, it was because our flight was delayed an hour and I really needed a drink. Regardless, that snack was the start of an epic eating adventure, as any good vacation should be.
Our first day in Seattle started with a bus ride from Bellevue to Ballard, a charming neighborhood with lots of vintage stores and cute restaurants.